It was a youthful indiscretion that scarred the ancient world.

A 15-year-old Chinese boy has been outed as the person who scrawled graffiti on a 3,500-year-old temple in Luxor, Egypt.

The boy’s crudely carved message, which was written with Mandarin characters on a bass relief in the Luxor Temple, read, “Ding Jinhao was here.”

Originally built by Amenhotep III in the 14th century B.C. and completed by Ramesses II, the temple sits on the banks of the Nile, not far from the Valley of the Kings.


A photograph of the graffiti taken by another Chinese tourist quickly went viral in China on Friday after being posted to social media site Weibo, where it garnered more than 100,000 comments.

Users on the website were able to identity of the boy and posted his address online. Over the weekend, his school’s website was hacked, and reporters descended on his home in the city of Nanjing.

Besieged by reporters, the child’s mother offered a formal apology on Saturday for her son’s behavior.

“We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China,” the boy’s mother told local newspaper Modern Express.

Ding’s mother also said that her son scrawled the graffiti years ago, the BBC reported, and had since come to appreciate the impact of his actions.

With China’s economy booming over the past decade, a growing number of the country’s residents have become global tourists.

Earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang addressed what he termed the “uncivilized behavior” of some of tourists that was giving his country a bad name abroad.

The teenager whose act now symbolizes a national shame, meanwhile, wishes he could return to anonymity once more.

“The boy has known about it since Friday and cried all night. He has had to be moved around because reporters rushed to their house for interviews,” a reporter from the Modern Express who talked with the parents told the Global Times.

On the bright side, Egypt’s ministry of antiquities described the damage to the temple wall as superficial and said it would attempt to restore it.

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